Archive for October, 2019

Assyrian Resettlement and Religious Affiliation

October 29, 2019 Leave a comment

24 The king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Kuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim and settled them in the towns of Samaria to replace the Israelites. They took over Samaria and lived in its towns. 25 When they first lived there, they did not worship the Lord; so he sent lions among them and they killed some of the people. 26 It was reported to the king of Assyria: “The people you deported and resettled in the towns of Samaria do not know what the god of that country requires. He has sent lions among them, which are killing them off, because the people do not know what he requires.”

27 Then the king of Assyria gave this order: “Have one of the priests you took captive from Samaria go back to live there and teach the people what the god of the land requires.” 28 So one of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria came to live in Bethel and taught them how to worship the Lord.

29 Nevertheless, each national group made its own gods in the several towns where they settled, and set them up in the shrines the people of Samaria had made at the high places. 30 The people from Babylon made Sukkoth Benoth, those from Kuthah made Nergal, and those from Hamath made Ashima; 31 the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire as sacrifices to Adrammelek and Anammelek, the gods of Sepharvaim. 32 They worshiped the Lord, but they also appointed all sorts of their own people to officiate for them as priests in the shrines at the high places. 33 They worshiped the Lord, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought.

34 To this day they persist in their former practices. They neither worship the Lord nor adhere to the decrees and regulations, the laws and commands that the Lord gave the descendants of Jacob, whom he named Israel. 35 When the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites, he commanded them: “Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them. 36 But the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt with mighty power and outstretched arm, is the one you must worship. To him you shall bow down and to him offer sacrifices. 37 You must always be careful to keep the decrees and regulations, the laws and commands he wrote for you. Do not worship other gods. 38 Do not forget the covenant I have made with you, and do not worship other gods. 39 Rather, worship the Lord your God; it is he who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.”

40 They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices. 41 Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their ancestors did.

In the ANE, conquering powers would move around populations to make it less likely that the people would rebel.

It is interesting that the people transplanted into Samaria, the former Northern Kingdom of Israel, never fully embraced the god of the land.

People’s religious affiliations were often locked in during childhood.

I wonder what percentage of people back then and today switch religious affiliations later in life.

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Why Israel Was Conquered

October 25, 2019 Leave a comment

7 This occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They had worshiped other gods 8 and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had introduced. 9 The people of Israel secretly did things that were not right against the Lord their God. They built for themselves high places at all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city; 10 they set up for themselves pillars and sacred poles on every high hill and under every green tree; 11 there they made offerings on all the high places, as the nations did whom the Lord carried away before them. They did wicked things, provoking the Lord to anger; 12 they served idols, of which the Lord had said to them, “You shall not do this.” 13 Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the law that I commanded your ancestors and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.” 14 They would not listen but were stubborn, as their ancestors had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God. 15 They despised his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their ancestors, and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false; they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the Lord had commanded them that they should not do as they did. 16 They rejected all the commandments of the Lord their God and made for themselves cast images of two calves; they made a sacred pole, worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. 17 They made their sons and their daughters pass through fire; they used divination and augury; and they sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. 18 Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight; none was left but the tribe of Judah alone.

19 Judah also did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God but walked in the customs that Israel had introduced. 20 The Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel; he punished them and gave them into the hand of plunderers, until he had banished them from his presence.

21 When he had torn Israel from the house of David, they made Jeroboam son of Nebat king. Jeroboam drove Israel from following the Lord and made them commit great sin. 22 The people of Israel continued in all the sins that Jeroboam committed; they did not depart from them 23 until the Lord removed Israel out of his sight, as he had foretold through all his servants the prophets. So Israel was exiled from their own land to Assyria until this day.

Verses 19-20 condemn the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Despite their unfaithfulness, they will hang on for over 100 years before Babylon defeats them.

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Assyria Defeats the Northern Kingdom

October 24, 2019 Leave a comment

5 Then the king of Assyria invaded all the land and came to Samaria; for three years he besieged it. 6 In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria captured Samaria; he carried the Israelites away to Assyria. He placed them in Halah, on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.

It is useful to note that Jerusalem and the Southern Kingdom have not been conquered yet.

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Hoshea, the Not-So-Bad King

October 23, 2019 Leave a comment

In the twelfth year of King Ahaz of Judah, Hoshea son of Elah began to reign in Samaria over Israel; he reigned nine years. 2 He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, yet not like the kings of Israel who were before him. 3 King Shalmaneser of Assyria came up against him; Hoshea became his vassal, and paid him tribute. 4 But the king of Assyria found treachery in Hoshea; for he had sent messengers to King So of Egypt, and offered no tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year; therefore the king of Assyria confined him and imprisoned him.

I wonder if Hoshea would have become a good king if he’d ruled over Judah, the southern kingdom.

He was not as bad as his predecessors.

But none of the northern kings was ever labeled faithful to the Lord. It was part of their role as breakaway rulers.

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2 Kings 17 Summary

October 22, 2019 Leave a comment

The Assyrians conquer the Israelites.

The people who were moved into this territory continue to worship their own gods, even after learning the laws of the Lord God.

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Natural Disaster Correction

October 18, 2019 Leave a comment

Famine and plague, tribulation and anguish are sent as scourges for the correction of humankind.

2 Esdras 16:19

I really dislike this perspective on disasters. It sums up God’s point of view in the story of Noah’s Ark.

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Correction as Moral Training

October 17, 2019 Leave a comment

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

According to Paul, one goal of correction is to help people “who belong to God” become more “proficient…for every good work.”

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Even Whole Cities Can Reject Correction

October 14, 2019 Leave a comment

Ah, soiled, defiled,
oppressing city!
It has listened to no voice;
it has accepted no correction.
It has not trusted in the Lord;
it has not drawn near to its God (Zephaniah 3:1-2, NRSV)

The prophet describes the many sins of the leaders in Jerusalem.

Abstract entities like cities and organizations can fall victim to lousy culture and an unwillingness to learn and grow.

How many healthy individuals does it take to heal a sick culture?

Are there predictable steps towards recovery?

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Ignoring Correction in Jeremiah

October 11, 2019 Leave a comment

Jeremiah 2:30
In vain I have struck down your children; they accepted no correction. Your own sword devoured your prophets like a ravening lion.

Jeremiah 5:3
O Lord, do your eyes not look for truth? You have struck them, but they felt no anguish; you have consumed them, but they refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to turn back.

Jeremiah 32:33
They have turned their backs to me, not their faces; though I have taught them persistently, they would not listen and accept correction.

In all three cases, a group of Israelites has refused to take the Lord’s correction seriously.

Is the Biblical term correction always framed as positive guidance that a group of God’s people turns down?

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God’s Opening Act: Correcting Job

October 10, 2019 Leave a comment

37:10 By the breath of God ice is given,
and the broad waters are frozen fast.
11 He loads the thick cloud with moisture;
the clouds scatter his lightning.
12 They turn round and round by his guidance,
to accomplish all that he commands them
on the face of the habitable world.
13 Whether for correction, or for his land,
or for love, he causes it to happen.

Elihu, Job’s younger friend, is God’s opening act at the end of the book.

Job understandably challenges God to justify the abuse Job experiences.

His first three friends are unable to change Job’s mind.

God overpowers Job with descriptions of the natural world. Elihu begins this line of reasoning in chapters 36 and 37.

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